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  • Private Equity Employment

    I am a 51 year old surgical sub-specialist, currently employed in a large private practice for the past 7 years. I am unhappy in my current position, probably somewhat clinically depressed as well. Partnership is not offered. I am underpaid compared to peers. Frequent staff turnover. Somewhat toxic work environment. I dread going to work each day. And I have felt this way for years. No other jobs exist within commuting distance of my home. I have a restrictive covenant. Any new job would require a move.

    I am happily married to a stay at home spouse and we have 2 awesome teenage children. We have no debt. House is paid off. 529s are funded. We have $7Million ($5.5M in taxable, $1.5M in retirement accounts). We spend $100K/yr with employer-sponsored health insurance.

    I have considered quitting/FIRE but Im not ready for that.  I still want to work ideally for 5-10 more years.

    I have an opportunity to take a job as an employee in a private equity owned practice in a nearby city where we have as many friends and family as we have currently. Relocation would be necessary. Spouse, children, and I are all somewhat scared of the unknown but excited about the potential adventure. Spouse only wants me happy. Of course the transition will be difficult but we are a strong family and have good support. As I list the specs of current job vs. PE job, the PE job is the clear winner (less ER call, less commute, probably more office efficiency, similar or better pay, etc).

    I would not be surprised if my current employer plans for a private equity sale in the future.

    What would you do?


  • #2
    How much do you need to retire? Based on what you've written, I would probably make it so I could retire and enjoy life again.


    • #3
      That’s a healthy amount of money in the bank. Plus not a lot of fixed expenses. Would a third option be to go part time? Increase vacation, reduce/eliminate ER call in the current job? Some practices allow you to give away your shifts for a price.

      The risk with private equity is that the rules could change at any moment. Call may worsen, salary shrinks, decreased vacation and productivity requirements increase. Also very strict non competes. Usually, a clause in the contract states that they can do whatever they want basically.


      • #4
        Congrats on your financial independence. Agreed with the issues with PE.

        What are you looking for in continuing to work? Do you enjoy patient care? Surgery? Mental stimulation? My guess is there are MANY fine opportunities for you out there. With such amazing finances have you considered taking a breather, maybe doing some locums to keep your skills up, and then looking around? It's hard to see clearly when you are being abused.

        The world is truly your oyster. Remember that any practice you look at isn't interviewing you; you are interviewing THEM. Best of luck.


        • #5
          "We have no debt. House is paid off. 529s are funded. We have $7Million ($5.5M in taxable, $1.5M in retirement accounts). We spend $100K/yr"

          So, you've got 70x your annual spend saved. Let's be conservative and say your health care expenses and additional fun spending with time off put you at 150k spent annually. You're at 47x annual expenditures.

          You're going to die far before you run out of money. I'd certainly quit ther job that you hate. You and your wife need to sit down and figure out how you want to spend your remaining years, as based on your reported numbers, you could maintain your current spending in perpetuity and never work again. I've gotta think there's something you'd love to do with your time than work for $ you'll never spend.


          • #6
            So, you ideally want to work another 5 -10 years because:

            1. You think you need to save more

              • If so, you must have some pretty significant unfunded spending goals in the future or

            2. Simply because you love practicing as a physician (just not where you are currently working)?

              • If so, I don't know why you wouldn't take the PE position. Could it possibly get any worse?

            You're very possibly FI and could simply quit if it turns out you hate the new position as much as you do this job. But I don't believe a physician with marketable skills should stay in a job that is the perpetrator of clinical depression unless you have to do so for financial reasons and have no other choices. I suppose one more reason could be that your kids don't want to change high schools, but sounds like they are on board with the idea. Yes?
            Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory and ignorant advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087


            • #7
              How old are your teenagers?

              Changing schools in 9th grade is different than in 12th.

              But, yeah, I would quit that job that is making you sick ASAP.

              If you want to keep your feet wet with clinical practice but not uproot the family maybe look at short term locums?


              • #8
                What about take a year off and reassess?  3% of 5.5 million is > 150K a year.  Sounds like a great time in life to spend more time with you kids.


                • #9
                  you realize 100K from 7MM is 1.4%.....or less than the dividends you are receiving from your investments. aka you never have to spend the principal....

                  so change your life, start today, you have far passed any reasonable time for second guessing.


                  • #10
                    Whatever eventually transpires and whatever path you choose to take, I strongly doubt you will EVER regret taking a year off to spend with your teens.


                    • #11

                      I dread going to work each day.
                      Click to expand...

                      What would you do?
                      Click to expand...

                      Put in my notice today.

                      Then again, being a doctor is no longer high on my priority list.

                      It sounds like you can cross "money" off of your list of concerns.  With that in mind you have a lot of freedom to design a job to fit your needs, starting with your present shop.  To be clear: when your BATNA is quitting, you hold all of the cards.


                      • #12
                        Turn your letter in today. Enjoy life. You have worked hard. No reason to stay in an unhappy work situation. Take a few months to figure out how you want to move forward.


                        • #13
                          I agree with quitting. If it were me, I’d prob sign up for locums, do some traveling by myself intermittently rather then move the kids out of school. Kids manage moves all the time, but you really do not financially need to work so I might just see if I could do weekend coverage or something every now and then to keep up my skills, and then find some full time work and move after the kids go to college. Maybe talks a lawyer if u want to fight the restrictive convenant, they aren’t always enforceable


                          • #14
                            I literally have tears in my eyes reading your responses. Without going into specifics I have had a challenging professional career and have always felt unaccomplished and like a bit of a failure.

                            The inability to achieve partner status has weighed heavily on me for my entire career. I will never have the salary or control that many of my physician friends and acquaintances have. I am angry and jealous and Im embarrassed about this. I feel like I haven't achieved enough. I feel like I failed. In my current practice I'm ignored. The partners live large, I feel invisible.

                            My wife thinks I am currently (perhaps irrationally) driven by the control I have to possibly cross the $10M mark.  Though I will never make partner, crossing the $10M line may dilute for me some of these feelings of self worth that I carry. We will never spend it. But its the only professional goal I can control. I know its a bit irrational.

                            And this, we think, is one of the main reasons why Im not ready to FIRE yet. How's that for anonymous honesty!

                            The PE job is in a city we like a lot and we know lots of friendly faces there. Wifey and I are beginning to envision a life of less work, less stress, less personal baggage (mine), more smiles, more laughing in the near future. I have the best wife ever.

                            Please keep the advice coming. You guys are so smart!



                            • #15
                              You may feel like you never "made it" because you didnt make partner in your group, but I guarantee you your net worth is higher than most of the partners in your group.  There were partners in my former group lamenting that they couldnt live off of 800k/yr when reimbursements started getting cut- bc they spent all of their salary each year on new toys.  You truly have FU money,  which a lot of the partners probably dont have.  Think of how much happier youll be knowing that they still have to work to maintain their lifestyle, but you can quit at any time.  If I were in your shoes, I'd immediately hand in my notice. If there were parts of that specific job I liked, I would consider working a few times/month per diem on my schedule just to keep active and keep some benefits. If you hate every aspect of your current job, then perhaps locums in the area or someplace you'd want to visit or near colleges your kids would like to attend. You have the FI part, now use it to increase your happiness.